We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Even with a star canine and the second word of its title, “Downward Dog” is one of the most human shows on TV.
Allison Tolman plays Nan, the show’s lead character, through a string of ups and downs that come when professional and romantic life have their uncertainties. Working on the marketing team for a clothing retailer while working through a breakup, Nan has a sleazy boss and an ambiguous dating situation.
It’s a complicated life for an interesting character; one that serves as the center for half of the show. The other half is her opposite: the internal musings of her trusty dog, Martin. Tolman sat down with IndieWire for an interview (via Facebook Live), where she talked about the challenges that go into an uncharacteristic TV comedy and what fans might expect in the coming weeks.
Tolman herself isn’t a dog owner, but Nan was the kind of role that she said she wanted to play after her starring role in Season 1 of FX’s “Fargo.” Not wanting to be confined to roles as wives or mothers, Tolman found something exciting in playing the more independent parts of Nan.
“It is fun to get to go to work and know that as long as I’ve got my lines memorized, I’m going to be pretty on point, because she’s not that far from me,” Tolman said.
Tolman also talked about filming the series in and around Pittsburgh, which gives the show a perspective from a city outside New York and Los Angeles.
“We talk about representation in television and movies and seeing people who look like us and seeing people who remind us of ourselves,” she said. “I also think it’s really nice to show different regions of the country. This is how people live, this is what the houses are like, this is what the weather’s like. I think that’s really valuable.”
And of course, it’s impossible to talk about “Downward Dog” and not mention Ned, the show’s canine co-star. Tolman talked up the dog behind Martin, Nan’s beloved companion, explaining that’s not your average pet.
“We would have days where he was having to do a really simple behavior, where he would have to walk and sit down. If we did it for too much time, the Tiffany, the trainer, would say, ‘I gotta take him outside and teach him something more exciting and exercise his brain a little!’ He’d get bored, because he’s so smart.”
“Downward Dog” has five more episodes before its season comes to a close. Tolman teased a few of the guest stars that will pop up in the weeks to come, including Nichelle Nichols, Louis Herthum, and this week’s guest, Timothy Omundson.
Watch the full interview with Tolman below:
“Downward Dog” airs on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC.